TODAY a good friend’s bundle of joy arrived. Congratulations, Ainun and Firdauz! Thanks for sharing the good news. We spoke five days later about her labour and it reminded me of mine.
So while we are on the subject, I’m sharing an article I wrote about my own experience (Mother and Baby magazine, December 2002).
THE FIVE E’s OF LABOUR
A first-time mum shares some tips that could hopefully eliminate some of those fears of impending childbirth and help you get through D-Day.
Making a baby is a team effort, thus it is only right that your spouse shares the burden of your nine-month pregnancy.
We had our child in the United States where my husband was on a mission. When we first learnt we were having a baby, I told my husband, “I do not care if you are in the remote area halfway across the continent with no means of modern transportation. If I am in labour, you have better be right next to me. Swim home if you have to!”
I need not have worried. My husband did more than his share. He put off all travel plans with immediate effect. He accompanied me to my monthly and subsequently weekly ob-gyn visits.
When my ob-gyn encouraged me to take up some mild exercises, my husband obediently drew up a schedule for an evening walk, three times a week. When winter weather put a stop to that, he signed us up for gym membership, only to see me drag my feet on the treadmill.
When D-Day came, he breathed, counted to 10, and pushed alongside me. He witnessed first-hand the miracle of childbirth and welcomed our daughter into this world.
We were briefed on the pain relief options a month earlier. For a person whose medical encyclopaedia of pain killers contains just one word – Panadol – nothing else quite registered.
“Avoid epidural,” warned one sister who had embarked on a lone anti-epidural campaign after a bad experience four years ago that left her with a constant backache. “Take the laughing gas just as both your other sisters had,” she advised.
The day I asked my ob-gyn, he almost died laughing. American hospitals did away with laughing gas so long ago, he said.
When the time came, I succumbed, and epidural came to my rescue. It relieved my labour pains so effectively and enabled me to enjoy my daughter’s birth so much so that I nearly named her after it.
I had always thought that an episiotomy was the only way. Otherwise how could a human being, no matter how tiny, emerge from that little opening down there?
Unless you have a vagina that stretches two postal codes, or a super patient midwife to massage your perineum, or are getting a C-section, chances are you are likely to have an episiotomy, more so for first-time mums.
I did what most women do – lie on the birth bed and let the wise doctor do her job. What I did not feel on the birthing bed, I felt the following days after I was discharged. All I can say is, like a torn cloth, you can sew it back, but it will never be the same again.
Dealing with a newborn is hard enough. Seeing Cindy Crawford flaunt her body in a figure-hugging leotard after giving birth can be downright depressing.
I got back into my pre-pregnancy clothes in three months without starving myself of carrying dumb-bells. I lost all my pregnancy weight just by changing diapers umpteen times a day and carrying my daughter to sleep. Keeping up with her is exercise enough for me. Nonetheless, hey, if gyms and video exercises are your thing, go for it!
After going through an emotionally and energy-draining experience, now it is time to enjoy your baby and your new role as a mother.